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Situational Hitting - mental cues?

SB45

Dad, Coach, Chauffeur
Sep 2, 2016
134
18
Western NY
Was looking through this Kent St video from a few years ago about indoor practice stuff. There is a section of front toss I found very interesting. The coach is calling out a situation and immediately pitching. "runner on first, no outs"... "2nd and 3rd, less than 2 outs" Expecting the batter to put the ball where they want it based on the situation. It starts at 7:16 in the clip...two batters and two different ways of calling it out. I especially like the last one about 8:18...coach isn't happy with placement of hit and repeats it.

My question is...what are the mental cues you want your hitter thinking to execute putting the ball where she wants it to go? I think a lot of repetition is important...but I am looking for the short phrase or phrases that resonate with a 14 year old. I don't think..."let the ball travel deeper" is a great cue...it may be true, but it is not helping them execute it. I am sure there are several different ways folks on here would plant a seed in the hitter's mind that translates into a physical way of executing hitting the ball where you want to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPoG5C0ySZw&t=0s
 

Cannonball

Ex "Expert"
Feb 25, 2009
3,852
63
We do a lot of work on pitch recognition. For example, the "progression drill" where, during front toss, the hitter hits the inside, then middle, then outside pitch. I've mentioned this before we place flat disc cones in the locations in the area of the plate where we want the hitter to contact the ball. We then throw the progression. I do use the phrase, "let the ball get deep" but that is clarified to the hitter by the location of the flat disc cone. I know you probably don't have one but Donny Buster created a device call the "Stay Back Tee." I use it as well to teach how to hit the outside pitch.
I
 
Dec 11, 2010
1,976
48
I love to throw front toss.

I think it is extremely important to tell them what they are doing right:

Good take.
Good take, not a strike.
Good take, blue might call that a strike but it’s not a ball you can hit hard all the time.
That’s a laser.
That’s a hard hit ball.
That was an outside pitch. Way to hit it hard oppo.
Way to get turned on that.
That’s hard to the gap!
Way to get it in the gap!
Hard hit ball! That’s not an easy pitch to hit hard! Great job. (Recognize that it isn’t a great pitch to attack but they were successful)

Second most important: Tell them What To Do:

Attack good pitches.
Be a predator of little yellow balls. (Hat tip FFS)
Attack.
Hit it hard!
Hit lasers!
Hit a rocket!
Hit the ball hard to the yellow thing on the top of the fence.
Hit the ball to the fence.
Burn dat outfielder! No respect, make her pay!
Get a good pitch to hit! I’ll give you a good one sooner or later!
Hey practice hitting good pitches! (Hitters zone a little big)
Great hitters are bad ball hitters! (Hitter being too selective. Stolen from a guy who hit top of order on U.S. Men’s team)

At age 14, and most other ages, when you tell them what Not To Do sounds like You Suck to the hitter. It has to be a very small part of the message. Giving them negative feedback has to happen. How it happens is critical for effectiveness.

The constant, naggy, repetitive advice is tuned out.

As skill level increases, you might be surprised how often when you tell a kid in a game “get something hard to a gap” it comes true as long as you don’t say it every at bat, pitch, whatever. I personally don’t emphasize hitting the ball over the fence. I never want a kid to feel any failure because they bounced the ball against the fence for a double. Yes, some kids are that hard on themselves.

Hope this helps.
 
Last edited:
Dec 11, 2010
1,976
48
I know my post wasn’t exactly situational hitting. I try to talk to hitters about that too. “Runner on 1. Something you can get in rc gap.”

But..... I’ll be danged if I’m ever going to make hitting a ground ball to the right side a goal. I think the bar is too low when you do that.
 
Jun 6, 2016
853
28
Chicago
Was looking through this Kent St video from a few years ago about indoor practice stuff. There is a section of front toss I found very interesting. The coach is calling out a situation and immediately pitching. "runner on first, no outs"... "2nd and 3rd, less than 2 outs" Expecting the batter to put the ball where they want it based on the situation. It starts at 7:16 in the clip...two batters and two different ways of calling it out. I especially like the last one about 8:18...coach isn't happy with placement of hit and repeats it.

My question is...what are the mental cues you want your hitter thinking to execute putting the ball where she wants it to go? I think a lot of repetition is important...but I am looking for the short phrase or phrases that resonate with a 14 year old. I don't think..."let the ball travel deeper" is a great cue...it may be true, but it is not helping them execute it. I am sure there are several different ways folks on here would plant a seed in the hitter's mind that translates into a physical way of executing hitting the ball where you want to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPoG5C0ySZw&t=0s
I really, really don't like this mental approach to hitting, mostly because I don't like outs.

Runners on 2nd and 3rd, less than 2 outs? Sure, a ground out to the right side that gets the runner home is better than nothing. But what's better than that is a line drive to the gap. So why are we teaching hitters to do the worse thing? Hit the ball hard. Every time.

Why are we teaching hitters to try to hit it to a certain spot without knowing where the pitch is going to be thrown? If you have a hitter going up there thinking "I have to hit to the right side" you're could be passing up hittable pitches because you can't hit them a certain way or you're going to try to hit a pitch to the right side that shouldn't be hit that way.

Much better to teach your hitters how they should be hitting pitches based on where they're thrown (take the outside pitch to right field instead of hitting a weak grounder to the left side).

Why all this?

Because a batter doesn't really have that kind of control since they're reacting and not dictating the action. But they do have the ability to get a strike they like and hit it hard. Sometimes that pitch location is going to be in a place that isn't good "situational hitting" but it is good "hit the everloving s*** out of the ball" hitting," and the latter is so much better.

tl;dr version: Productive outs should be a happy accident and not something you're trying to do
 

SB45

Dad, Coach, Chauffeur
Sep 2, 2016
134
18
Western NY
Much better to teach your hitters how they should be hitting pitches based on where they're thrown (take the outside pitch to right field instead of hitting a weak grounder to the left side).
thanks for the responses so far...I should say...I have never really taught or pushed situational hitting like the video (obviously I guess)...it just got me thinking and more than anything...I was looking to pick brains for conversation. So...I appreciate all of the dialog. Coach JD...the underlined part of your message is really touching on my point...what physically is the batter doing? what are they telling themselves to accomplish "taking it to right field" other than practice reps? Are they doing something different in their sequence? Are they driving their top hand through the contact point in the direction they want to hit?
 
Dec 11, 2010
1,976
48
I really, really Hit the ball hard. Every time.

Why are we teaching hitters to try to hit it to a certain spot without knowing where the pitch is going to be thrown? If you have a hitter going up there thinking "I have to hit to the right side" you're could be passing up hittable pitches because you can't hit them a certain way or you're going to try to hit a pitch to the right side that shouldn't be hit that way.

Much better to teach your hitters how they should be hitting pitches based on where they're thrown

Because a batter doesn't really have that kind of control since they're reacting and not dictating the action. But they do have the ability to get a strike they like and hit it hard.
I could not agree more. A laser to the gap fits every offensive situation with few exceptions.
 
Apr 20, 2018
701
28
SoCal
"At age 14, and most other ages, when you tell them what Not To Do sounds like You Suck to the hitter. It has to be a very small part of the message. Giving them negative feedback has to happen. How it happens is critical for effectiveness.

The constant, naggy, repetitive advice is tuned out."

This is most certainly true^^^^^^^. I try to limit the words cant and dont from any practice. Not easy and catch myself more often than I would like but being aware of it helps.

I believe there is a time for a hard hit ground ball. 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, non power hitter( probably not going to hit a laser in the gap) batting. I don't want them to aim the ball but hit it hard on the ground. The last thing I want in that situation in an infield flyball.
 
Jun 6, 2016
853
28
Chicago
thanks for the responses so far...I should say...I have never really taught or pushed situational hitting like the video (obviously I guess)...it just got me thinking and more than anything...I was looking to pick brains for conversation. So...I appreciate all of the dialog. Coach JD...the underlined part of your message is really touching on my point...what physically is the batter doing? what are they telling themselves to accomplish "taking it to right field" other than practice reps? Are they doing something different in their sequence? Are they driving their top hand through the contact point in the direction they want to hit?
Someone here has a Buster Posey GIF of him hitting an inside, middle, and outside pitch. It appears to me he doesn't really change his swing. He just does everything a little earlier/later. That's what I try to teach, but I don't know that those who have a lot more technical hitting knowledge than I do would agree.

To hit a pitch to right field, I don't think a hitter has to change her swing. She just has to let it get deeper, right? (I think this is right. I sure hope it is!) So I think the best thing to do is work with hitters on recognizing pitch location AND explain to them generally where those pitches should go. Once they understand that (RH hitter) the outside pitch should go to right field, and to do that they should let it get a little deeper, I think you kind of have to leave it up to them to figure out the timing.
 
Apr 20, 2018
701
28
SoCal
Instead of "letting it get deeper" cue which I have used and explained, I have been using "keep your shoulder closed a little longer". Seems to work. I believe the more the hitter understands their swing and more they own it the better.
 

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